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MAP TO PROSPERITY: The times, they are a-changin'

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Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, is managing member and broker of West Virginia Commercial LLC. He has been involved in commercial and investment real estate for more than 30 years, and he also is general partner of McCabe Land Company LP. He has served in the West Virginia Senate since 1998, and is a special project consultant to The State Journal.

The West Virginia of tomorrow will not be the West Virginia of yesterday, or even of today. 

To use one of retired banker Holmes Morrison's favorite quotes to cite from Jack Welch, "If the world around you is changing faster than you are, then the end is in sight." 

The State Journal, starting with this issue, will be running a multi-issue series titled West Virginia's "Map to Prosperity." In these upcoming articles, Jim Ross and George Hohmann, with support from The State Journal staff, will attempt to raise the level of discussion about what West Virginia needs to do to keep up with the ever-changing world around it. 

The discussion, at times, may verge on the uncomfortable, for change is never easy. The comments and observations will be coming from a broad array of interviews with key opinion leaders from around the state. The State Journal believes that West Virginia is approaching a pivotal point in its history and needs to rethink what it has done in the past and determine what is relevant for the future. There will be no easy answers. 

But one thing is for sure: If West Virginia is to become the best that it can be, a new game plan is needed. In that game plan, the old ways of doing business will become a memory of the past. The budget will be transformed into a lean and efficient use of taxpayer dollars and funded programs will survive on their own merits. The expansion of the economy, improvement of our communities and our residents' quality of life will be the drivers. 

As Ted Boettner has said, "The big test of government is not its size, but whether it is making investments in the things that really create good-paying jobs and communities we all want to live in." 

That being said,  a professor of business, director of the BB&T Center for American Capitalism and a distinguished fellow in economics at the Marshall University Center for Business and Economic Research, Cal Kent has astutely observed, "We are a high-need, low financial capacity state." 

Therein lies the challenge: Can we, as a state, redefine what state government does and how it does it, all within the financial confines of tight fiscal policies? 

The State Journal hopes to engage its readers and the public at large in this most important dialogue. Perhaps together we can make a difference. As Bob Dylan said, "The times they are a-changin'."

Let's be part of the solution and define our future together.